Tayyip Erdogan begins second term with expanded powers

Vastavam web: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in for his second term as head of state today, taking on greater powers than any Turkish leader for decades under a new system condemned by opponents as a one-man regime. Erdogan, who has transformed Turkey in 15 years of rule by allowing Islam a greater role in public life and boosting its international stature, took his oath in parliament for a five-year term after his June election victory. “I swear upon my honour before the great Turkish nation that I will work impartially to fulfil the duty I have taken on,” Erdogan said in his oath. Erdogan will face immediate challenges posed by an imbalanced if fast-growing economy and foreign policy tensions between the West and Turkey, a NATO member.

He has also pledged to end the state of emergency that has been in place since the failed July 2016 coup and which has seen the biggest purge in the history of modern Turkey. In what appeared to be the final emergency decree issued just one day before the inauguration, 18,632 public sector employees were ordered dismissed including thousands of soldiers and police officers. The new system, which dispenses with the office of prime minister, was agreed in a bitterly fought 2017 referendum narrowly won by the “Yes” camp. The issue is still polarising in Turkey.

“A partisan one-man regime starts officially today,” said the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper.Its commentator Asli Aydintasbas wrote: “I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that we entered a ‘second republic’ era,” after the republic set up by Turkey’s secular founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.In one of the most significant changes, the EU affairs ministry, set up in 2011 to oversee Turkey’s faltering bid to join the bloc, is being subsumed into the foreign ministry. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim now goes down in history as the 27th and final holder of the post in Turkey. He is expected to become speaker of the new parliament.

The transition ceremony later today, to be attended by some 10,000 guests and marked by dozens of gun salutes, has been overshadowed by a deadly train derailment in northwest Turkey on Sunday that left 24 dead. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will attend, in a new sign of the warm ties between Ankara and Moscow, as will Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, regarded with disdain by Washington but an ally of Erdogan.

Tweeting a video apparently showing himself driving to the airport, Maduro hailed Erdogan as a “friend of Venezuela and leader of the new multi-polar world.” Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is on the guest list as is Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar, Turkey’s closest ally in the Middle East. The only EU leaders are set to be Bulgarian President Rumen Radev and Hungary’s strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban.The new cabinet, due to be announced at 1830 GMT, is expected to have a different look, with pro-government Hurriyet daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi saying that it was set to “surprise” with figures from outside the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The markets will keep a close eye on economic appointments, keen to see a steady hand at the helm in a fast-growing economy dogged by double-digit inflation and a widening current account deficit. Erdogan, who first came to power as premier in 2003, won an outright victory in June 24 polls, defeating his closest rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) which is now locked in internal battles over its future direction.